YMCA of WNC offers Water Safety Month tips

Press release from YMCA of Western North Carolina:

As temperatures rise, kids are tempted to cool off in home pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, swimming holes, and oceans. The risk of drowning increases with the heat index. May is National Water Safety Month, a great time for parents and caregivers to reinforce the importance of water safety skills with the whole family.

“As ‘America’s Swim Instructor,’ YMCAs typically teach thousands of children invaluable water safety and swimming skills each year,” said Jessica Hendrix, executive director of the Asheville YMCA. “Last year that number dipped due to COVID-19 precautions. We want to remind parents and caregivers that it’s more important than ever to keep water safety top of mind as families start to return to their usual summer routines.”

Here are five tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for all:

1. Never swim alone or without a water watcher. When children are swimming, make sure they are actively supervised at all times. Teach your children that they should only swim in locations where a lifeguard is on duty, or where a responsible adult agrees to watch the children in the water without distractions.

2. Supervise your children whenever they’re in or near water. Whether it’s bath time or taking a dip in a pool or lake, make sure your children are within arm’s reach at all times.

3. Don’t engage in breath holding activities. Children should not hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming. This can cause drowning and has several other severe physical side effects.

4. Wear a life jacket: Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in deep water. If a child sees someone in deep water unexpectedly, their natural reaction may be to jump in to help. Even if a child is a great swimmer, a panicked person may overpower the rescuer and pull them underwater. The Y’s Safety Around Water program teaches the “reach, throw, don’t go” concept of using a long object to reach for a struggling swimmer and pull them to safety. This technique children to help without compromising their own safety.

Right now people can “pay the day” to access full membership benefits, including discounts on programs like swim lessons, with no joining fees. That means new members will get more for less by paying $10 on the 10th, $11 on the 11th, and so on through May 15. Financial assistance is available.

To learn more about the YMCA of Western North Carolina’s swim programs, please visit ymcawnc.org/swimming.

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